Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester area is still expecting its biggest storm of the season, but the latest forecasting models suggest the brunt of the powerful weather system will hit areas north and west of southeastern Minnesota.

The National Weather Service says Saturday should be quiet in the Rochester area before light snow possibly begins moving into the region Saturday evening. Minor accumulations are expected until Sunday, when the storm is expected to produce heavy precipitation and strong winds. At this point, forecasters are predicting 3-5 inches of accumulation on Sunday and another 1-2 inches Sunday night when the wind gusts could top 30 mph.

At some point Sunday night, the snow is expected to begin transitioning to rain, which raises the specter of the possibility of icy precipitation and the potential for damage to power lines and other infrastructure. The National Weather Service says the forecasting models are not clear on when the warmer air will arrive.

Mainly rain is forecast on Monday, when there is a slight chance of thunderstorms as temperatures warm into the mid to upper 40s.

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Looking to areas west and north of Rochester, a winter storm watch has already been posted for nearly the entire state. Only the southeastern corner and the counties adjacent to the Iowa border are not in the watch area. The forecast calls for up to a foot of snow in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, with snowfall totals as high as 15 inches possible just west of the Twin Cities.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Further north, the National Weather Service is predicting 20 or more inches in Duluth along the North Shore. That band of extremely heavy snow extends all the way to Hinckley and Brainerd, where forecasters say the snowfall totals could range from 11 to 21 inches.

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